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'The Woman Who Lived In A Vinegar Bottle' | Circle Round 813:09Download

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Think about the place where you live.

Is it a house?

An apartment?

Maybe it’s in a big city… or in a small town.

Well… today we’ll meet a woman who lives in a most unusual place:

A bottle… of vinegar!

Today’s tale is called “The Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle.” People started sharing versions of this folktale long, long ago... in England.

This episode includes the voices of: Anne Undeland, Annabella Rae Sherman, and a Sela Ward.  Catch Sela Ward in Season Two of the Epix series "Graves."

This story was adapted for Circle Round by Jessica Alpert and Rebecca Sheir.  Sound design and original composition by Eric Shimelonis.  Casting by Amy Lippens, CSA.


Adults: Print out this picture and let your listeners color along with the episode.


Things To Think About After Listening

What in life are you thankful for? What makes you feel content? Find some paper, and draw a picture of whatever it is that makes you grateful. Or whoever! After all, people can make us feel pretty happy too, right?


 Story Transcript

NARRATOR: Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived… in a vinegar bottle.

That’s right:

A vinegar bottle.

So… it was small.

And it was stuffy.

On one side of the bottle was a little bed where the woman slept. Next to the bed was a little table where she put her books. There was also a small kitchen and an even smaller bathroom. So you can imagine how crowded it was….

But honestly, the woman… didn’t mind it.

Not at first.

But… as time went by… she would sit inside the bottle’s round glass walls… and complain.

WOMAN: Oh, I am so tired of living here in this stuffy bottle! Why, I should be living in a country cottage! With a stone path! And a garden! That would make my life so much better!

NARRATOR: One day, two fairies flying by happened to overhear the woman complaining.

FAIRY 1: A country cottage?

FAIRY 2: With a stone path?

FAIRY 1: And a garden?

FAIRY 2: Why, if that’s what she wants, that’s what she’ll get!

NARRATOR: Quickly the fairies fluttered down to the woman – who immediately popped her head out the top of the bottle.

WOMAN: Why, hello!

FAIRY 1: Hello!

FAIRY 2: Hello!

WOMAN: And you are…?

FAIRY 1: ...the answer to your wishes!

FAIRY 2: Here is what you must do. Before you get in bed tonight, turn round and round and round, and close your eyes. When you open them in the morning, just see what you shall see.

NARRATOR: Before the woman could say anything else, the fairies disappeared – with a poof!

WOMAN: (sound of surprise)

NARRATOR: That night, the woman put on her pajamas, washed her face, and brushed her teeth. Before she got in bed, she decided, why not? She’d do as the fairies said. She turned round and round and round, and closed her eyes.

And when she opened them again in the morning, what do you think she saw?

WOMAN:  It’s a miracle!

NARRATOR: Instead of a small, stuffy vinegar bottle, the woman found herself in a country cottage... with a stone path, and a garden!

WOMAN: It's just what I’ve always wanted! I will be so content!

NARRATOR: She danced and she sang, she sang and she danced. But one thing she did not do?

Say a word of thanks to the fairies.

Well, the fairies went north, and the fairies went south. The fairies went east, and the fairies went west. They did all the fairy business they had to do. Then they began to think about the woman.

FAIRY 1: I wonder how she is getting along.

FAIRY 2: The one who used to live in the vinegar bottle! Let’s stop round and see!

NARRATOR: But when the fairies arrived at the country cottage with the stone path and the garden, they found the old woman sitting amongst the beautiful rose bushes… and complaining!

WOMAN: Oh, dear. It’s so cramped here in this cottage, and this stone path? It’s so plain, so common! Why, I should be living in a mansion high atop a hill, with servants to do my every bidding and chefs to cook my every meal! That would make me so content!

NARRATOR: The fairies thought for a moment.

FAIRY 1: A mansion high atop a hill...

FAIRY 2: ...with servants to do her every bidding…

FAIRY 1: ...and chefs to cook her every meal!

FAIRY 2: Why, if that’s what she wants, that’s what she’ll get!

NARRATOR: Once more, the fairies fluttered down to the woman. Once more, the woman was surprised.

WOMAN: You’re back!

FAIRY 2: We are!

FAIRY 1: With the answer to your wishes!

FAIRY 2: Before you get in bed tonight, turn round and round and round, and close your eyes. When you open them in the morning, just see what you shall see.

NARRATOR: And again, the fairies disappeared – with a poof!

WOMAN: (slightly surprised sound)

NARRATOR: That night, the woman put on her pajamas and washed her face; she was too excited to brush her teeth. Before she got in bed, she turned round and round and round, and closed her eyes.

And when she opened them again in the morning, what do you think she saw?

WOMAN: It’s amazing!

NARRATOR: Instead of a country cottage with a stone path and a garden, the woman found herself in a mansion high atop a hill, with servants to do her every bidding and chefs to cook her every meal!

WOMAN: It's just what I’ve always wanted! I will be so content!

NARRATOR: She danced and she sang, she sang and she danced. But one thing she did not do?

What do you think?

That’s right:

She did not say a word of thanks to the fairies.

Well, the fairies went north, and the fairies went south. The fairies went east, and the fairies went west. They did all the fairy business they had to do. Then they began to think about the woman.

FAIRY 1: I wonder how she is getting along.

FAIRY 2: The one who used to live in the vinegar bottle! Let’s stop round and see!

NARRATOR: But when the fairies arrived at the mansion high atop a hill, with servants to do the woman’s every bidding and chefs to cook her every meal, they found her sitting in her brand new velvet chair… and complaining!

WOMAN: Ugh. I simply cannot stand living here in this drafty mansion. My days are so dull! Why, I should be living in a palace! As a queen! With musicians to entertain me and messengers to carry out my royal decrees! That would make me so content!

NARRATOR: The fairies thought for a moment.

FAIRY 1: A palace, as a queen...

FAIRY 2: ...with musicians to entertain her and messengers to carry out her royal decrees! Why, if that’s what she wants, that’s what she’ll get!

NARRATOR: One more time, the fairies fluttered down to the woman. The woman sighed.

WOMAN: I am so unhappy. Tell me you bring the answer to my wishes!

FAIRY 2: We do! Before you get in bed tonight, turn round and round and round, and close your eyes.

FAIRY 1: When you open them in the morning, just see what you shall see.

NARRATOR: And just as before, the fairies disappeared – with a poof!

That night, the woman put on her pajamas but skipped washing her face and brushing her teeth. Before she got in bed, she turned round and round and round, and closed her eyes.

And when she opened them again in the morning, what do you think she saw?

WOMAN:  It’s perfect!

NARRATOR: Instead of a mansion high atop a hill, with servants to do her every bidding and chefs to cook her every meal, the woman found herself living in a palace, as a queen, with musicians to entertain her and messengers to carry out her royal decrees!

WOMAN: It's just what I’ve always wanted! I will be so content!

NARRATOR: She danced and she sang, she sang and she danced. But one thing she did not do?

Say a word of thanks to the fairies.

Well, the fairies went north, and the fairies went south. The fairies went east, and the fairies went west. They did all the fairy business they had to do. Then they began to think about the woman.

FAIRY 1: I wonder how she is getting along.

FAIRY 2: The one who used to live in the vinegar bottle! Let’s stop round and see!

NARRATOR: But when the fairies arrived at the palace, where the woman was living as a queen, with musicians to entertain her and messengers to carry out her royal decrees, they found her sitting on her royal throne… and complaining!

WOMAN: (big sigh) This kingdom... it’s so small, so insignificant! And this throne — it’s so hard! Why, I should be living in the grandest palace in the world! As the ruler of everything and everyone! That would make me so content!

FAIRY 1: The grandest palace in the world?

FAIRY 2: As the ruler of everything and everyone? Why, if that’s what she wants…

NARRATOR: The fairies thought for a moment.

And another.

And another.

Then they fluttered down to the woman.

WOMAN: Oh! I am more miserable than ever! You must have the answer to my wishes! You must!

NARRATOR: The fairies smiled.

FAIRY 2: We always have the answer! Before you get in bed tonight, turn round and round and round, and close your eyes.

FAIRY 1: When you open them in the morning, just see what you shall see.

NARRATOR: And just as before, the fairies disappeared – with a poof!

This time, the woman didn’t even wait until nighttime. She didn’t put on her pajamas, or wash her face, or brush her teeth. Before she got in bed, she turned round and round and round, and closed her eyes.

And when she opened them again in the morning, what do you think she saw?

WOMAN: It’s… it’s…!?!

NARRATOR: Instead of the grandest palace in the world… living as the ruler of everything and everyone… she found herself... right back in her vinegar bottle!

And in that bottle the woman stayed.

WOMAN:  Oh, no!!!!

NARRATOR: For the fairies knew what all of us know:

If we aren’t content and grateful here… we won’t be content and grateful anywhere. Because happiness and thankfulness come from the heart… not from the house!

Jessica Alpert Twitter Managing Producer, Program Development
Jessica Alpert is the managing producer for program development at WBUR. In this position, she develops new podcasts and programs while also launching and nurturing WBUR’s newest projects.

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